Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Peachtree City

Leadership Gifts Distinguish McIntosh Valedictorian

By PRISCILLA GREEAR, Special To The Bulletin | Published June 20, 2013
Hannah Mason

Hannah Mason

PEACHTREE CITY—Hannah Mason served as president of six clubs and as captain of her lacrosse and swim teams and marching band at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City. She participated in the Georgia Girls State mock government camp and raised funds to fight the degenerative disease ALS.

And in the classroom she excelled academically and discovered passions for genetics and Spanish.

Now catching her breath, Mason graduated as valedictorian and will attend the University of Georgia with a Zell Miller Scholarship. The daughter of Linda and Fritz Mason, she is a member of Holy Trinity Church.

Mason plans to major in both genetics and Spanish at UGA where her sister Sadie is a senior. She aspires to work as an attorney focused on bioethics, fascinated by all the emerging genetics cases, such as the recent Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of patents on two genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer. “These are just the beginning cases because genetics is such a new field,” said Mason, who is morally grounded by her Catholic faith.

She also reads a lot of science magazines. “When I had AP biology it kind of affirmed my desire to go into genetics,” she said. “The genes composed in DNA determine all forms of life. This connection between the molecular and the macro, between the genes and the expressed traits, fascinates me, and thus I would like to study this common thread that unites all life forms.”

Mason also lights up when talking about Spanish.

“I love it, the culture and the language,” she said. “I think it’s important that people are bilingual.”

Lector Zamore, her AP Spanish teacher, said she makes every effort to practice her advanced language skills.

“Hannah is a self-driven scholar who is very analytical, attentive to detail, and introspective,” he said. “Hannah is synonymous with excellence—a great student whose determination and hard work will take her to untold places.”

Mason served as president of the high school National Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Interact Club, Parent Teacher Student Organization and Beta Club. As one who “can’t be relaxed,” she finds that being a leader comes naturally and she has a longer-term career goal to get into politics. She was elected governor of the Georgia Girls State mock government camp, giving several speeches including to the Georgia American Legion Auxiliary.

Every spring she looked forward to lacrosse. As captain she helped to lead the team this past year to raise funds and participate in the Atlanta walk for the Georgia ALS Foundation in honor of their beloved coach Mickey Beard, who has ALS. Their efforts raised $10,000.

She and Beta Club co-president Tori Kinamon, her best friend who is also Catholic, coordinated Beta volunteers at the lacrosse-sponsored fundraisers.

“It meant a lot, especially to my team, but also to Beta Club. Everyone knows our coach,” she said. “It is the unity created at this (ALS walk) that creates hope for a better tomorrow where this fatal disease will be cured.”

Dan Ward, lacrosse coach, recalled that they rallied not only “the players and families but a lot of people in the community to get on board with the ALS fundraising.”

On the field, he said, Mason wasn’t afraid to both encourage and challenge teammates while also looking after the younger ones.

“She is probably the best all-around student leader … that I’ve come into contact with at McIntosh,” Ward said.

Amid the swirling challenges of high school, Mason has found abiding peace through Catholicism. Her confirmation experience was especially meaningful in helping her to connect with others facing similar struggles.

“It really has helped me get through some of the tough times, just having my faith as a Catholic Christian when a lot of things are changing. Especially now it has just been a guiding factor,” she said.

Stepping out in faith, she also tries to live advice from her valedictory speech. In it she quoted Oscar Wilde’s observation that “to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

“Instead of working to get through the next test and working to graduate, we should enjoy the journey and not just be looking forward to the destination,” she reflected.